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2021: How to Set New Goals

As a dancer, you may find yourself setting goals not just once a year but on a weekly to monthly basis. Goals like fitting in an extra rotation in your pirouette, getting your leg as high or higher than the dancer’s in front of you, or being the last one balancing in passé at the end of a combination. A studio is a place in which if one student masters a new skill or level of technique we see that one, it’s possible and two, wouldn’t it be great if we all could do that? It’s what we call friendly competition, but are you, as a dancer really setting yourself up to achieve maximum potential by only setting short-term goals?

It’s essential to surround ourselves with people who inspire and challenge us, but always trying to do what someone else has achieved can feel like playing a game of catch-up. We see only the outcome of what we want but are not taking practical steps to master a new goal. To help with entering into a new year here are some steps and thoughts to consider in setting some goals for this new season.

1. Setting Smart Goals

Are the goals you’re setting practical? And are they within your reach? Yes, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to and are willing to put in the required effort, but it’s important to recognize that the goals you set will not appear overnight. They cannot merely be wished or prayed for to be achieved. So, it is important to first have a clear view of who you are and where you currently stand as a dancer. Recognize both your strengths and weaknesses and find a good first step.

For example, if a dancer wishes to complete 32 fouettés, but cannot even finish more than 2, then it’s important to lessen the goal. Start with completing 8 rotations, then add 4-8 more from there. Or, simply start with 32 relevés on one leg. Setting too high of a standard can be discouraging, so why not start with a reasonable goal (for you personally) and see yourself grow from there?

2. Dreams vs Goals

When setting new goals consider if the outcome is determined by the personal work you are putting in, or if it is determined by scenarios outside of your control. For example, doing a double pirouette is determined by the strength and skill you acquire, but getting a specific role in a dance or production is determined by a director or casting panel.

The goals you set should be attainable by your personal efforts, because you may dream of dancing a particular role, but at the end of the day, that decision is out of your control. Try setting goals that may help you get a particular part, but know that it’s not always up to you.

3. Journal and Celebrate

A great way of tracking your progress and holding yourself accountable is to keep a journal. Take note of dates and timelines, progress made, and even setbacks. It’s all part of the process. Putting into words what you’re wanting and what you’re feeling can be a great tool in recognizing new goals, why you want them, and how to get there. Then once you make progress in one area don’t be afraid to celebrate. This gives you a finish line to cross and gives you a well-deserved sense of accomplishment.

4. Planning

Setting a timeline helps to keep you on track and motivated. Achieving goals can take time and setting both a short-term goal and a long-term goal gives you perspective as to where your skill started, how it is in the process, and if you’re on track to finish by your desired finish date. By the way, it’s okay to alter the finish date. Sometimes you and your skills just need more time to develop. Try planning out your week, month, and year around your new goals. Consider what you need to do daily, weekly, monthly, etc. to get where you want to be.

5. Accountability

It’s always okay to ask for help and having someone in the game of goal setting with you can boost your confidence and keep you accountable with the goals you’ve set. Find a friend, parent, or mentor who you trust and feel comfortable sharing these goals with. This person can encourage you when you’re not yet seeing the results you expected, give you advice on the goal planning process, hold you accountable for taking the steps you said you would take, and of course celebrate with you once you’ve mastered a new skill.

So, your to-do list for 2021?

1. Set smart, practical goals according to your personal track.

2. Recognize your dreams and set goals that can help get you there one day.

3. Start a journal and celebrate the progress.

4. Plan your short term/long term timeline.

5. Find a goal-setting friend.

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